EXCLUSIVE: CRISIS ROCKS NBA LEADERSHIP, AS VP BLASTS USORO

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

  • ACCUSES NBA PRESIDENT OF BREACHING CONSTITUTION

  • LABELS HIM ‘SOLE ADMINISTRATOR’

  • ‘NATIONAL OFFICERS NEGLECTED, TREATED UNFAIRLY’

  • SAYS APPOINTMENT OF NEC MEMBERS FLAWED

  • RAISES POSERS ON PREPARATIONS FOR NBA ELECTIONS

The crisis of confidence rocking the leadership of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) peaked at the weekend following an unprecedented and scorching indictment of NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN by the association’s Second Vice President, Dr. Foluke Dada.

In an email last Thursday by Dada to the NBA President obtained by CITY LAWYER, the fiery senior lawyer lampooned Usoro for his leadership style, saying that National Officers have been sidelined from discharging their constitutionally guaranteed roles.

Titled “My concern on the state of the 2020 Elections and the abandonment by the President of the NBA, Paul Usoro SAN of the National Officers in the scheme of NBA affairs,” CITY LAWYER gathered that the email was copied to all the National Officers.

Noting that all efforts to discuss the “burning issues” were rebuffed by the NBA President, Dada, who is also the Chair of Advocacy Committee of NBA Women Forum, stated that Usoro’s style “has been one of pure neglect or shall we say, total abandonment of the key officers of the NBA national Exco,” adding that “In fact, the word is that you, Mr. President, view your officers as ordinary appendages to your office with no usefulness as to the running of the organization against the core provisions of the Constitution of the NBA.”

Assessing Usoro’s leadership style, the NBA Second Vice President scored him poorly on teamwork, adding that National Officers were denied the opportunity to contribute to decision making in their constitutionally mandated roles. Her words: “It is in line with the trust imposed, that as an officer, who observes throughout an almost two -year tenure that the affairs of the National body has been SOLELY stage-managed by you as a “Sole Administrator”, so to speak, and in addition, all affairs have been personally handled to the EXCLUSION of the members of the exco by you to the detriment of all. This is in clear assault to the intentions of the drafters of the Constitution of our great body, the Nigerian Bar Association.”

Dada accused the NBA President of nepotism, noting that she rebuffed Usoro’s attempt to hijack her constitutionally guaranteed role. Her words: “It is on this note that the agenda of neglect/abandonment of officers started from the inception of our tenure when you sought to appoint your kinsman, Victor Etim ESQ. to perform the duties constitutionally granted to the office of the Second Vice President of the Bar! This move was resisted by me but you employed the silent code to avoid your officers to the best of your ability! There are lessons to be learned!!!”

She noted that key decisions were taken “without the input of any member of the executive,” adding that “appointment of members of over 100 Co-Opted NEC has been conducted by you to the detriment of the interests of the majority of your National Officers and the Bar, particularly, those you perceive as having voted for your opposition during the election at the Bar.

Turning to the 2020 NBA National Elections, Dada who declared herself a “woman of honor and integrity,” said that “members from across the Nation have been clamoring for the postponement of the 2020 National Elections for reasons varying from the lack of transparency, lack of a trust-worthy web platform secured to ensure the integrity of the elections, incomplete or unverifiable electoral list, verification difficulties etc.”

She raised many posers on the integrity of the electoral process, and urged Usoro to provide answers to them, saying: “My question to you sir, Are we providing the best possible electoral platform and resources to our members?”

With a tone of finality, Dada, who is also the the Iyalode of Ere Ijesha and Yeye Mofin of Itaji-Ekiti, stated that the National Officers had a raw deal under the Usoro Administration. She said: “Sir, I (and I believe all of us, as national officers) have been unfairly treated by you sir. Let this be on record!”

It is recalled that CITY LAWYER had in a report last May noted concerns by some National Officers that they were not carried along especially in relation to award of contract for the revamp of the NBA Website. The report stated that “At least three National officers who spoke to CITY LAWYER recently vowed that they were in the dark on the NBA website contract, adding that it was never discussed at any of their meetings. They also pleaded ignorance on the identity of the vendor or scope of work contained in the contract. The NBA did not respond to CITY LAWYER enquiries on the subject.”

  • DR. FOLUKE DADA, NBA Second Vice President

Below is the full text of the letter.

MY CONCERN ON THE STATE OF THE 2020 ELECTIONS AND THE ABANDONMENT BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE NBA, PAUL USORO SAN OF THE NATIONAL OFFICERS IN THE SCHEME OF NBA AFFAIRS

Dear Sir,

Greetings!

PREAMBLE:

Permit me to explore this avenue to make known my observations on some of the issues arising from my association with your honourable self and some of the burning issues within the NBA Community on the vital areas of concern that should be discussed.

May I remind you sir, Mr. President, that I have called by phone and sent many messages via WhatsApp and through a phone call 3 weeks ago to your wife, Mrs. Mfon Usoro who called out to you across the room but you responded that you were busy! Since then, I have not had the courtesy of a return call or response to any of my messages or attempt to reach you to discuss some of these vital issues! Hence, my adopting the current medium to hone in some of the points I would have preferred to discuss with you personally.

It is indeed worrisome to me that the trend and path adopted by your honourable self, being the elected President of the Nigerian Bar Association (2018-2020), (just as we all have been elected to serve one constitutional purpose or the other), has been one of pure neglect or shall we say, total abandonment of the key officers of the NBA national Exco. In fact, the word is that you, Mr. President, view your officers as ordinary appendages to your office with no usefulness as to the running of the organization against the core provisions of the Constitution of the NBA. Little did it surprise anyone that you sought to include into the recently amended Constitution of the NBA, the clause (which was honorably expunged by members at the AGM of 2019), that persons seeking an election into offices at the Bar should be men and women of “means!”

ISSUES AT THE CORE

My distinguished President, I humbly and honorably disagree with the above concept formally and do seek your indulgence to state categorically that I am a woman of honor and integrity and of course with means adequate enough to live a honourable lifestyle of a lady at the Bar! I am of the view, that same applies to my other colleagues at the EXCO! Let me state further that;

The Nigerian Bar Association is a body governed by her Constitution (2015 as amended 2019) and several rules of Professional Ethics and behavior that require that the men and indeed women at the Bar serve with utmost dignity and integrity of purpose within and outside the Bar. Hence, the perceived indictment on the person of any national officer who feels alienated from the performance of his or her duties so accorded by the trust and confidence imposed on their election into the various offices of the Bar! This is my belief throughout the tenure!

It is in line with the trust imposed, that as an officer, who observes throughout an almost two -year tenure that the affairs of the National body has been SOLELY stage-managed by you as a “Sole Administrator”, so to speak, and in addition, all affairs have been personally handled to the EXCLUSION of the members of the exco by you to the detriment of all. This is in clear assault to the intentions of the drafters of the Constitution of our great body, the Nigerian Bar Association.

Recall also, that you, as the President of the NBA, has refused totally to engage your officers in the vital decisions affecting the Bar to the detriment of the Constitutionally mandated roles of your executive officers. It is on this note that the agenda of neglect/abandonment of officers started from the inception of our tenure when you sought to appoint your kinsman, Victor Etim ESQ. to perform the duties constitutionally granted to the office of the Second Vice President of the Bar! This move was resisted by me but you employed the silent code to avoid your officers to the best of your ability! There are lessons to be learned!!!

Recall again sir, that prior to and throughout the COVID-19 saga AND TILL DATE, you have refused to call one National Officers Meeting, physically or virtually!

In fact, it is bemusing that throughout the COVID-19 period, I, as your officer, did not receive ONE phone call or message to check the welfare, not to talk of working or suggesting or contributing to any Bar related issue from you!

Recall as well, that even the appointment of members of over 100 Co-Opted NEC has been conducted by you to the detriment of the interests of the majority of your National Officers and the Bar, particularly, those you perceive as having voted for your opposition during the election at the Bar.

Mr. President, vital decisions have been taken without the input of any member of the executive, save yourself sir. We seem to be the administration that thrived on NEC ratifications after the fact. This is no surprise as the bulk of the co-opted membership of NEC was selected by you sir! Would I be right to assume that this was done for a purpose? Why were officers made redundant and despised?

THE ULTIMATE –  NBA 2020 ELECTION

As recently as yesterday, July 6th, 2020, members from across the Nation have been clamoring for the postponement of the 2020 National Elections for reasons varying from the lack of transparency, lack of a trust-worthy web platform secured to ensure the integrity of the elections, incomplete or unverifiable electoral list, verification difficulties etc. An embarrassing example of this is a situation where a name was listed as “Opening Balance” on an electoral list!!! The list goes on and on…

Mr. President, what answer do you have for a concerned electorate at the Bar who seeks to understand:

The veracity of the information contained in the NBA database?

The security measures in place to ensure that the election is not compromised

The identity and the integrity of the organization working on the private data of members

The process or remedial measures in place for possible infractions or even crashes during the election

The improvement in the capacity of the customized NBA web page which to the best of my knowledge or to the best of information available unto me, has failed on the couple of times it was tested even for a Zoom meeting!

My question to you sir, Are we providing the best possible electoral platform and resources to our members? The questions above were posed by members of our great association who are genuinely worried about the level of our preparedness. Please oblige me with answers. We owe them the responsibility.

Again Mr. President, do you really think it is fair on your officers to neglect them or even think possibly that everyone has come to supposedly exploit the Association? Alas, NO! Thirty One (31) YEARS at the Bar for me is nothing to jeopardize for a two-year tenure of service to my great Association!

History will judge all of us as we treat each other in this profession. Our great objective is the promotion and the protection of the Rule of Law. As we seek to do this, we also reflect on our attitudes and the impact of our actions on the people we meet along the way. For me, as an elected National Officer, the little I was able to sternly but respectfully discharge has been nothing but through the grace of GOD. Posterity will judge us all.

Sir, I (and I believe all of us, as national officers) have been unfairly treated by you sir. Let this be on record!

I have a future that GOD only can preserve.

I enjoin you sir, to please endeavor to imbue in the younger people coming after us the sense of dignity as we all owe them that duty! It is not enough to form a platform for them to operate. We should ensure they have as much independence and unity of purpose serving with dignity and integrity.

I continue to serve the Bar in the best of my ability for the remainder of our tenure in office and beyond.

We are all lawyers!

Thank you sir!

Dr. Foluke Dada
2VP NBA (2018-2020)

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